Wage panel defers making hike decision

Too many provinces yet to give proposals

Workers and labour leaders have pushed for more than a year for a nationwide minimum wage of 360 baht by 2020 - but seem unlikely to get it. (File photo by Wichan Charoenkiatpakul)

A tripartite committee with the authority to raise the minimum daily wage on Wednesday deferred making a decision on any wage hike until its next meeting scheduled for next month.

The committee, however, insisted that calls from some provincial wage panels and labour groups for a daily wage rise of at least two baht across the country make no sense.

Speaking after Wednesday's committee meeting, Charin Chakkaphak, permanent secretary for labour, in his capacity as panel chairman, said it had yet to reach a decision on the expected wage change.

One key reason was the committee still lacked information regarding 46 provinces whose provincial wage committees failed to submit a proposal as to how much the minimum wage in these provinces should be next year.

The committee represents employers, employees and the government.

Because these provinces make up more than half the country's population, it was important to wait for their input before a decision is made, Mr Charin said. He denied the delay resulted from lobbying by those who may want a wage hike delay.

The committee will take into account living costs, gross domestic product (GDP) and inflation when it considers any wage increase at its next meeting, he said.

The wage issue requires careful consideration, given the unstable economic outlook, the strong baht, stiff international trade competition and volatile exports, Mr Charin said.

"We need clearer information to enable us to reach a sound decision on the matter," he said, adding there should not be a one-size-fits-all rate," he said.

It is important to maintain the committee's credibility. The panel must work to ensure its decisions regarding any wage adjustment are respected and accepted by all sides, including experts from the Commerce Ministry and the Bank of Thailand who are also on the tripartite committee, he said.

He insisted the annual wage adjustment will be introduced at some point as there is enough time to discuss it.

The committee has until November to decide on the wage hike proposals, which are normally implemented on Jan 1 each year under the labour protection law, a source said.

Last year, however the wage adjustment was delayed until April 1.

According to the same source, some provincial wage committees had asked to raise the minimum wage between 2 baht and 10 baht. The highest hikes are proposed for Bangkok, Samut Prakan, Phuket and Chon Buri.


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